New report shows shale gas risks unique Channel Country rivers that Qld Government promised to protect

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The Western Rivers Alliance has today released a report showing shale gas in the Channel Country is not worth the risk and is calling on the Queensland Government to make good on its election promise to protect the globally unique rivers of the Channel Country.

Cooper Creek and the Georgina and Diamantina Rivers in the Channel Country in the state’s far west are among the last free-flowing desert rivers on earth. They have outstanding scientific and cultural values, support a lucrative clean and green pastoral industry, and a growing tourism sector.

In the lead-up to the 2015 Queensland election, the Labor Party promised to reinstate legal protections for Queensland’s Wild Rivers.1

The former LNP Government had revoked protections for wild rivers from unconventional gas mining and accepted significant political donations from a gas mining company that stood to benefit financially as a result.

Sarah Moles, Coordinator of the Western Rivers Alliance (WRA) said the report’s analysis of peer-reviewed science on the impacts of the US shale gas industry showed the evidence of long-term damage cannot be denied.

“Our review of peer-reviewed scientific studies found that the process of unconventional gas mining can and does harm ground and surface water resources, causes damage to soils, fragments or disturbs natural habitats and causes harm to native wildlife and livestock.

“From 2009 to 2015, 69% of peer-reviewed studies into water quality in unconventional gas producing areas in the U.S. found potential, positive association or actual evidence that water contamination had occurred.

“The analysis found that, over time, 100% of gas-wells will fail, creating pathways for gas or water from different aquifers to contaminate good quality water supplies,” Ms Moles said.

Professor Richard Kingsford, Director of the Centre for Ecosystem Science, University of New South Wales said: “The sheer volume of water needed for gas mining in Australia’s driest region is of considerable concern.

“Also, the magnificent and intact Channel Country of the Lake Eyre Basin rivers would inevitably be affected if gasfields became established and interrupted the natural movement of water flows with extensive road and pipeline networks.

“These intricate natural channels are crucial to floodplain and wetland ecology in the Channel Country and the wider Lake Eyre Basin, which received the International River Prize last year, a reward recognising its pristine state,” Professor Kingsford said.

Pastoralist Dr Bob Morrish said: “The only reliable source of water out in the Channel Country is the Great Artesian Basin. It really is the lifeblood of the Outback. Significant new extractions may impact on the reliability of pastoralists’ water supplies and their businesses.”

Ms Moles said the WRA’s study had considered social and economic impacts as well as environmental ones.

“The evidence from the decade or so that the CSG industry has operated in Queensland’s Surat Basin is that community well-being and social capital have declined.

“Very few locals benefit from jobs in the gas industry. If they do, jobs are lost from existing local businesses. The gas industry prefers to source supplies and services from metropolitan centres or even overseas, so local business owners miss out again.

“The bottom line is that Channel Country communities have very little to gain from this industry – but a great deal to lose.

“In light of this report, we’re calling for the Qld Government to urgently implement their promises to protect the pristine rivers and floodplains of the Channel Country,” she said.

For information or comment:  Professor Richard Kingsford 0419 634 215, Dr Bob Morrish 0473 223 935, Sarah Moles 0427 753 947

For the full report click here  

  • Coley

    The former LNP Government had revoked protections for wild rivers from unconventional gas mining and accepted significant political donations from a gas mining company that stood to benefit financially as a result.
    Absolutely sickening,some people would eat their children for a fat brown envelope.